The final strikes, spares, splits and probably a few gutter balls were thrown June 5 at Arnold Bowl.
The bowling centre, which had operated at 1140 Jeffco Blvd. since 1965, has closed, and the building will be demolished to make way for a Planet Fitness gym, co-owner Jack Jolly said.
He said he and his wife, Cindy Jolly, and their business partner, Tammy Melton, sold the business to a group of investment bankers who plan to build the gym on the site.
“They have some type of contractual arrangement with Planet Fitness,” Jack said. “We have heard there may be a restaurant built in there and possibly a small strip mall.”
On June 2, Heather Pearson, a communications specialist with Planet Fitness, said the company does not have information about building a location at the Arnold Bowl site at this time.
The Jollys and Milton have owned Arnold Bowl since 1995, after buying it from Cindy’s father, John Minor, who had owned the business with his son since 1988, Jack said.
“There are a lot of mixed feelings,” Cindy said of selling the business, “Back in the day, Arnold Bowl was the place to go. It was a difficult decision.
“We are ready to move on to the next phase of our lives and visit our (seven) grandchildren more.”
Jack, 67, and Cindy, 66, of St. Louis County, said they have been interested in selling the business for about six years.
“We finally came up with the right opportunity,” Jack said.
Jack said the Randolf family opened the Arnold Bowl, which at first had just 16 lanes on the first floor of the building, which also housed a bar and cafe. In 1972, an addition was built to house 16 more lanes.
He said the building has not changed much since that expansion 50 years ago.
“It is a challenging business, particularly the last two years with the pandemic,” Jack said. “It has been challenging from a staffing and business standpoint. We came through it fine, and everything is good. But we are ready to retire.”
Jack said Arnold Bowl had between 10 to 12 leagues bowling every week from late August through the end of April.
“We just finished our nine-month league and had one of our best years in 10 to 15 years,” he said.
Jack said he has a lot of memories from the bowling alley he will take into retirement.
“We had a father and son, Marty and Chad Faulstich, on the same lane bowl (perfect) 300 games in their series one night,” Jack said. “That was in 2016.”
He also said Oscar Masters, a World War II veteran who lives in Arnold, has been a source of inspiration.
“(Masters) is sharp as a tack, and he can throw the ball as hard as I can,” Jack said. “During a summer league in 2016, he bowled three strikes and then got a nine count and picked it. He then ran off the sheet and bowled a 279. If he would have gotten that 300, he would have been the oldest person in the (US Bowling Congress) Bowling Association to have bowled a 300.
“I believe he was 93 at the time he bowled the 279. He is somewhat of a legend around the bowling center.”
He said the youth bowling leagues also have produced fond memories, with many of the bowlers from those leagues ending up working at Arnold Bowl as teenagers.
He said one group of young bowlers went on to become collegiate champions.
“There were three or four bowlers who went to Lindenwood College; they were on the (Intercollegiate Bowling Championships) national championship bowling team in 2005.”
Jim Womack, 82, of Arnold said he started bowling at Arnold Bowl shortly after it opened, and after a break from league bowling, he returned after he retired when he was 61.
“All of the memories are good,” Womack said. “I have a lot of brothers and nephews who I bowled here over the years.”
Cindy and Jack said they will miss the people they have met through the business.
“We made lifelong friends at Arnold Bowl,” Cindy said. “It has been great ride.”